Case Number: 650

Council Meeting: APRIL 1997

Verdict: Not Upheld

Publication: New Zealand Herald

A complaint to the New Zealand Press Council that a photograph of nudists published in the New Zealand Herald on 2 January was offensive, has not been upheld.

Mr Kristian Harang complained the photograph was offensive to the elderly and family people. He was also concerned that young people would, by viewing the photograph, form the belief that deviant sexual behaviour is quite acceptable.

The photograph accompanied an article about the 45th annual rally of the New Zealand Nudist Federation. It showed six or seven men two of whom were standing with their backs to the camera and their buttocks clearly visible. Mr Harang said such photographs were unacceptable in a conservative family newspaper such as the New Zealand Herald.

The editor of the Herald, Gavin Ellis, responded to the criticism by saying the photo was inoffensive. It had been taken with care and skill and its publication was carefully considered. He said it depicted an event which took place near Auckland. The photograph was published alongside a small article which explained that 300 people had attended the rally.

The photograph was carefully chosen to minimise the nudity shown, and given that the rally was for nudists, it is the Council’s opinion that a photograph showing much less nudity would have been meaningless. The photograph was not on the front or back page in a prominent position. The accompanying article contained a comment from the rally organiser that nudism is sensual but not sexual. She maintained that nudism imparts a sense of freedom and self esteem in a fun family atmosphere. Nothing in the article condoned deviant sexual behaviour or indeed any sexual behaviour at all. Other than the nudity nothing in the picture suggests sexual behaviour.

It was the only complaint received in relation to the photo and it is the Council’s opinion that the Herald has correctly judged the attitude of the great majority of its readers and exercised appropriate editorial discretion.

The complaint is not upheld.